J is the tenth letter in the English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its normal name in English is jay or, now uncommonly, jy .
["J", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989)] ["J" and "jay", Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993)] When used for the palatal approximant, it may be called yod ( or ) or yot ( or ).
The letter J originated as a swash letter I, used for the letter I at the end of Roman numerals when following another I, as in XXIIJ or xxiij instead of XXIII or xxiii for the Roman numeral representing 23. A distinctive usage emerged in Middle High German.
Gian Giorgio Trissino (1478–1550) was the first to explicitly distinguish I and J as representing separate sounds, in his Ɛpistola del Trissino de le lettere nuωvamente aggiunte ne la lingua italiana ("Trissino's epistle about the letters recently added in the Italian language") of 1524. [ De le lettere nuωvamente aggiunte ne la lingua Italiana in Italian Wikisource.] Originally, 'I' and 'J' were different shapes for the same letter, both equally representing , , and ; but, Romance languages developed new sounds (from former and ) that came to be represented as 'I' and 'J'; therefore, English language J, acquired from the French language J, has a sound value quite different from (which represents the initial sound in the English word " yet").
Use in writing systems
In English, most commonly represents the affricate
. In Old English
, the phoneme was represented orthographically with and .
Under the influence of Old French
, which had a similar phoneme deriving from Latin , English scribes began to use (later ) to represent word-initial in Old English (for example, i est and, later jest
), while using elsewhere (for example, he dge
Later, many other uses of (later ) were added in
from French and other languages (e.g. ad join
, 'j 'unta). The first English language book to make a clear distinction between and was published in 1633.
[English Grammar, Charles Butler, 1633] In loan words such as raj, may represent . In some of these, including
, Taj Mahal
, and Beijing
, the regular pronunciation is actually closer to the native pronunciation, making the use of an instance of a hyperforeignism
Occasionally, represents the original sound, as in Hallelujah
for details). In words of Spanish origin, where represents the voiceless velar fricative (such as jalapeño
), English speakers usually approximate with the voiceless glottal fricative .
In English, is the Letter frequency in words, being more frequent only than , , and . It is, however, quite common in proper nouns, especially personal names.
Germanic and Eastern-European languages
The great majority of Germanic languages, such as German language
, Dutch language
, Icelandic, Swedish language
, Danish language
and Norwegian, use for the palatal approximant , which is usually represented by the letter in English. Notable exceptions are English language
, Scots language
and (to a lesser degree) Luxembourgish. also represents in Albanian, and those Uralic languages
, Slavic languages
and Baltic languages
that use the Latin alphabet, such as Hungarian, Finnish language
, Estonian, Polish language
, Czech language
, Slovak language
, Latvian language
and Lithuanian. Some related languages, such as Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian, also adopted into the Cyrillic alphabet for the same purpose. Because of this standard, the lower case
letter was chosen to be used in the IPA as the phonetic symbol for the sound.
In the Romance languages, has generally developed from its original palatal approximant value in Latin
to some kind of fricative
. In French language
, Portuguese, Catalan language
, and Romanian it has been fronted to the postalveolar fricative (like in English mea sure
). In Spanish language
, by contrast, it has been both devoiced and backed from an earlier to a present-day ,
with the actual phonetic realization depending on the speaker's dialect/s.
In modern standard Italian language spelling, only Latin words, proper nouns (such as Jesi, Letojanni, Juventus etc.) or those borrowed from foreign languages have . Until the 19th century, was used instead of in , as a replacement for final -ii, and in vowel groups (as in Savoja); this rule was quite strict for official writing. is also used to render in dialect, e.g. Romanesque ajo for standard aglio (––) (garlic). The Italian novelist Luigi Pirandello used in vowel groups in his works written in Italian; he also wrote in his native Sicilian language, which still uses the letter to represent (and sometimes also dʒ or gj, depending on its environment).
In Basque language
, the diaphoneme
represented by has a variety of realizations according to the regional dialect: (the last one is typical of Gipuzkoa
Among non-European languages that have adopted the Latin script
, stands for in Turkish language
and Azerbaijani, for in Tatar language
. stands for in Indonesian, Somali language
, Malay language
, Igbo language
, Shona language
, Oromo language
, Turkmen language
, and Zulu language
. It represents a voiced palatal plosive in Konkani language
, Yoruba language
, and Swahili language
. In Kiowa language
, stands for a voiceless alveolar plosive, .
In Chinese language Pinyin, stands for , the unaspirated equivalent of .
The Royal Thai General System of Transcription does not use the letter , although it is used in some proper names and non-standard transcriptions to represent either จ or ช (the latter following Pali/Sanskrit root equivalents).
In romanized Pashto language, represents ځ, pronounced .
𐤉 : Semitic letter Yodh, from which the following symbols originally derive
I i : Latin letter I, from which J derives
ȷ : Dotless j
ᶡ : Modifier letter small dotless j with stroke
ᶨ : Modifier letter small j with crossed-tail
IPA-specific symbols related to J:
Uralic Phonetic Alphabet-specific symbols related to J:
, , and
J with : Ĵ ĵ ǰ Ɉ ɉ J̃ j̇̃
- 1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.
Unicode also has a dotless variant, ȷ (U+0237). It is primarily used in Landsmålsalfabet and in mathematics. It is not intended to be used with diacritics since the normal j is softdotted in Unicode (that is, the dot is removed if a diacritic is to be placed above; Unicode further states that, for example i+ ¨ ≠ ı+¨ and the same holds true for j and ȷ).
[ The Unicode Standard, Version 8.0, p. 293 (at the very bottom)]
In Unicode, a duplicate of 'J' for use as a special phonetic character in historical Greek language linguistics is encoded in the Greek script block as ϳ (Unicode U+03F3). It is used to denote the palatal glide in the context of Greek script. It is called "Yot" in the Unicode standard, after the German name of the letter J.
[Nick Nicholas, "Yot" ] An uppercase version of this letter was added to the Unicode Standard at U+037F with the release of version 7.0 in June 2014.
Wingdings smiley issue
In the Wingdings
font by Microsoft
, the letter "J" is rendered as a smiley
(note this is distinct from the Unicode code point U+263A, which renders as ☺). In Microsoft applications, ":)" is automatically replaced by a smiley rendered in a specific font face when composing rich text documents or HTML email. This autocorrection feature can be switched off or changed to a Unicode smiley.
In international licence plate codes, J stands for Japan.
In mathematics, j is one of the three imaginary units of .
In the Metric system, J is the symbol for the joule, the SI derived unit for energy.
In physics, electrical engineering and related fields, j is the symbol for the imaginary unit (the square root of -1) (in other fields the letter i is used, but this would be ambiguous as it is also the symbol for current).
A J can be a slang term for a spliff (marijuana cigarette)